Project Music is so much more than just an after-school music program. “We are cultivating change makers through music,” says Executive Director Gabrielle Molina. The program is open to young music students in the Stamford, Connecticut, area and includes free instruments, music instructions, mentorship and opportunities to perform.
“I’m most excited about our newest initiative that we are calling our ‘Learn & Earn Program’ where we train and pay our student leaders to help around Project Music,” Molina says. “These jobs include music librarian, equipment manager, speaker and tour guide for guests, a performance track and so many more. The students have to interview, present a resume, work on a budget for how they will use their money, and learn skills that will be directly translatable to college or a job.”
Prior to being named executive director, Molina was program director and focused on embedding Project Music even further into the community and working alongside other community partners that care about the kids, community development, education and the arts. “Now as executive director, I have to think about our sustainability and future positioning of the organization as we continue to grow and evolve to meet the needs of our community,” she says.
Currently, Project Music serves more than 100 students, but Molina’s goal is to more than double enrollment to 250+ through growing partnerships in the community. “I really believe that you have to meet students where they are, but with that being said, you have to also show them where they can go, all the possibilities that are open to them if they work and are ready to tackle challenges,” she says.
The approach Molina takes at Project Music is: If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together. “We — and I say we because I don’t do this alone, this truly is a together effort — have engaged more community partners and asked ‘how can we get involved, how can we enroll more students?’ There’s so much great work being done in our community, so it’s really just about finding a way to work together because we all ultimately want to see a better, brighter community and future,” she says.
Molina also founded Teaching Artists International (TAI), a nonprofit whose mission is to “develop global citizen musicians that support music education around the world,” according to its website. TAI partners with music institutions worldwide to provide teaching artists residency opportunities to travel, perform and teach.